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Document: ISSF 2023-04: A Snapshot of the Large-Scale Tropical Tuna Purse Seine Fishing Fleets as of June 2023*


Purse seine vessels account for about 66% of the world’s tuna catch. However, the number of purse seiners operating in the various oceans is not available from a single source. In this paper we estimate the number and fishing capacity of authorized tuna purse seiners based primarily on information available from the five tuna Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs).

After accounting for possible duplicate entries, we calculate that as of June 2023 there are at least 1,837 purse seiners fishing for tunas worldwide. This is surely an underestimate because many small-scale purse seiners or purse seiners operating in only one EEZ do not have to be listed on RFMO records of authorized fishing vessels. Focusing on large-scale purse seiners (defined here as having 335 m3 fish hold volume or greater) that target tropical tunas (skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye), we calculate there are 652 such vessels with a combined fishing capacity of over 841,000 m3. The number of these vessels increased by about 2% during the past year, and the fishing capacity increased by 1%.

Of those 652 large scale purse seine vessels fishing for tropical tunas, 492 are registered on the ISSF Pro Active Vessel Register (PVR), which represent 75% in number and 82% in fish hold volume (FHV). About 14% of these 652 large-scale vessels are authorized to fish in more than one RFMO, which should be taken into account in any efforts to manage fishing capacity at a regional level.

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Suggested Citation:

Justel-Rubio, A. and Recio, L. (2023). A Snapshot of the Large-Scale Tropical Tuna Purse Seine Fishing Fleets as of June 2023 (Version 11). ISSF Technical Report 2023-04. International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.